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Centenary Celebration must include concrete steps to improve women’s representation

Published: Friday, January 05, 2018

Women across Ireland will be celebrating Nollaig na mBan, Women’s Christmas, tomorrow. At the start of the year that we will also be celebrating the centenary of women’s right to vote in Ireland, the National Women’s Council of Ireland (NWCI) is calling on the Government to improve the representation of women in key leadership positions by introducing gender quotas for candidates for the local elections and gender quotas for senior decision making positions at Board level in private companies. 

Orla O’Connor, Director of NWCI said,

“We welcome the commitment by An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, to use 2018 not only as a year to celebrate the centenary of women’s suffrage but as a year to bring forward concrete steps to advance women’s equality in Ireland. Improving the representation of women in key leadership positions must be an integral part of this. The existing gender quotas for candidates for the General Election showed that this type of legislation has had a significant positive impact on greater representation of women.

While women only made up 15% of TDs after the 2011 General Election, this figure went up to 22% following the 2016 General Election. The number of women is likely to increase over the course of the next General Elections to reach the critical mass of 30 % women TDs. We are calling on the Government to replicate the success of the gender quota legislation at national level and introduce quotas for candidates for the local elections. The legislation should be in place for the upcoming local elections in 2019.’”

She continued,

“2018 must also be the year that we improve the representation of women at senior level on private boards. Women comprise just 16% of membership of ISEQ20 company boards in Ireland. While this number is increasing, the pace of change is unacceptably slow, and Ireland is behind the European average of 23%, and even further behind the UK, who are on 27%. Board performance is largely dependent upon tapping into the economic power and potential of women.

The Government and businesses must take specific and targeted measures to increase the number of women on boards, and these must include a gender quota. Quotas are a blunt tool, but they have real merit as a mechanism for accelerating the pace of change, and increasing the numbers of women on boards in a timely manner.

Achieving the right to vote for women 100 years ago was a key turning point for women’s equality. However, we will only have full equally if women are equally represented in the decision making structures at all levels.””


For more information, please contact Silke Paasche, Head of Communications, Tel. 085 8589104, silkep@nwci.ie